England’s Lily-May Humphreys surely confirmed her spot in the GB&I Curtis Cup team and kept Scots Shannon McWilliam and Chloe Goadby waiting with a surge to win the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Strokeplay Championship at Royal Troon yesterday.
Just 16 last month, Humphreys – who won the English Ladies Amateur title last year – shot a final round four-under 68 on the Open Championship course for a nine-under total of 207 to overhaul McWilliam and hold off Goadby by a shot.
With the eight-strong team for the matches against the USA at Quaker Ridge being named on Wednesday, Humphreys could only have impressed the watching GB&I captain Elaine Farquharson–Black as she recovered from an early double bogey to sweep to the title.
Sparked by a 30 foot birdie putt on the seventh green, she went on to birdie both the Postage Stamp and the ninth, after McWilliams, who was in sole possession of the lead, double-bogeyed the long sixth to open the door.
The Aboyne teenager then bogeyed the 11th via the railway leaving Goadby the main challenger, and the Stirling University student had her chance in the closing holes when she pulled to within a shot birdieing the long 16th while Humphreys could only par behind her.
But with the English girl watching from the tee, the St Regulus member from St Andrews missed the green right on the short 17th and a six foot putt for par.
Humphreys’ solid tee shot to the centre of the green just about put the seal on victory, despite Goadby’s closing birdie to get back to within a shot at the end.
“It’s been a great place to recover my form, because it’s been missing this season,” said Humphreys. “I’ve had a couple of big wins before but the strength of this field, with all the international players, makes it a big one for me.
“I had that early double at the first short hole but I just wanted to stay aggressive and then I holed a few long putts that got me going.”
Goadby wasn’t aware of Humphreys’ status throughout her final round but had few regrets even coming so close.
“I’d made my decision not to look at the scores because it wouldn’t change my approach or the aggressive way I wanted to play,” she said.
“If you’d offered me second place in this event and a 68 on the Royal Troon course I’d have obviously taken it, and Lily-May must have played well to shoot a 68.
“I had that putt on 17 but really that was the only one I missed all day, and a birdie down the last made up for it in my mind.”
For McWilliams, her chances of getting in the GB&I team will have improved after an impressive first two days with the pressure on her, even if her one-over 73 in the final round dropped her to fourth, her third top five finish in this event in the last four years.
“I’m gradually getting closer,” she said. “The double bogey at the sixth really hit me, from the middle of the fairway as well.
“But credit to Lily-May, she played really well. I’m just hopeful for Wednesday and we’ll see what happens.”
Defending champion Linn Grant of Sweden, sharing the lead coming into the final round with McWilliam, finished in third after a one-under 71.
Four more Scots – first round leader Hannah McCook, Gemma Batty, Eilidh Briggs and Jasmine McIntosh – finished in the top 10 but the wait for a first Scottish winner since 2002 of the national strokeplay title goes on.